Douglas Ubelaker is a curator and senior scientist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where he has been employed for nearly four decades. Since 1978, he has served as a consultant in forensic anthropology. In this capacity he has served as an expert witness, reporting on more than 900 cases and has testified in numerous legal proceedings. He is a professorial lecturer with the Departments of Anatomy and Anthropology at the George Washington University, Washington D.C., and is an adjunct professor with the Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich. He has published extensively in the general field of human skeletal biology with an emphasis on forensic applications. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous leading scientific publications, including the Journal of Forensic Sciences; the Open Forensic Science Journal; International Journal of Legal Medicine; Human Evolution; Homo, Journal of Comparative Human Biology; Anthropologie, International Journal of the Science of Man; Forensic Science Communications; Human Evolution; International Journal of Anthropology; and Global Bioethics. He received his B. A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
He has been a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences since 1974 and achieved the status of fellow in 1987 in the Physical Anthropology Section. He served as the 2011-2012 president of the AAFS. He is a member and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member and fellow of the Washington Academy of Sciences. He serves on the Forensic Sciences Foundation Board of Directors, and is a diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. He is a member of the American Association of Physical Anthropology, Paleopathology Association, and the Society of American Archaeology. He has received numerous honors including the Memorial Medal of Dr. Aleš Hrdlička, Humpolec, Czech Republic; the Anthropology Award of the Washington Academy of Sciences; the T. Dale Stewart Award by the Physical Anthropology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences; the FBI Director's Award for Exceptional Public Service; the Federal Highway Administration Pennsylvania Division Historic Preservation Excellence Award; a special recognition award from the FBI, and was elected Miembro Honorario of the Sociedad de Odontoestomatólogos Forenses Ibero Americanos.
He was appointed to the FSSB in 2014.